“Chobi Mela continues the way it began,” writes Shahidul Alam. “Unyielding to power.” He’s referencing the very first Chobi Mela festival, which opened in Dhaka, Bangladesh back in 2000. Alam and Robert Pledge had painstakingly put together an exhibition on Bangladesh’s 1971 war, which a government minister – phoning at midnight – wanted to censor; rather than comply and remove the offending prints, Alam and Pledge moved the entire exhibition to a new venue, which opened at 3pm the next day.
“That is how we’ve always done it,” writes Alam, the founder of Chobi Mela. “Against the odds, facing the storm, with the wind against our face.”
Though he doesn’t mention it outright, it’s difficult to read his comments now without also thinking of Alam’s own recent experience, in which he spent 107 days in Dhaka Central Jail last year. The 63-year old photographer and Drik Gallery director was arrested on 05 August after stating in an interview with Al Jazeera that the wave of student protests in Bangladesh last year was a reaction to government corruption. He was charged with violating Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT) – which has been used in more than 20 recent cases involving journalists, most of them related to news-reporting – and was held for more than 100 days.
Award-winning photographer Shahidul Alam has spent over 100 days in jail, but – according to Reuters and several Bangladeshi newspapers – has finally been granted bail by the High Court this morning. “We’re delighted that ultimately the court has granted him bail,” said his lawyer Sarah Hossain in the Reuters’ report, adding she expected her client to be out soon.
The 63-year-old photographer and activist was arrested at his home in Dhaka on 05 August, and was charged the next day with violating Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT), after giving an interview to Al Jazeera on the current wave of student protests in Bangladesh against unsafe roads. In the interview, he stated that these actions stemmed from anger about widespread government corruption, and the charges mean he faces up to 14 years in prison.
Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam has been given the Humanitarian Award at this year’s Lucie Awards. The award was given on 28 October in recognition of Alam’s prestigious career in photography and activism, which has seen him documenting the democratic struggle to remove Bangladeshi dictator General Hussain Muhammad Ershad in 1984, publishing a celebrated book My journey as a witness, and taking the last official portrait of Nelson Mandela in 2009. In addition, Alam set up the award-winning Drik picture agency, the Chobi Mela festival, and the South Asian Media Institute.
Alam is currently in prison in Bangladesh, having been arrested on 05 August and charged with violating Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act. The Lucie Foundation took the opportunity to join the many international voices speaking out against his incarceration, which include Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and Index on Censorship.
Bangladeshi photographer and Drik Gallery director Shahidul Alam has reportedly been denied bail by a court in Dhaka.
Various local media outlets, including United News of Bangladesh, The Daily Star, and Bangla Tribune, have all reported that Judge KM Imrul Kayes of Dhaka Metropolitan Session Judge’s Court passed the order on 11 September. Public Prosecutor Mohammad Abu Abdullah moved against the bail petition, while Barrister Sarah Hossain stood for Alam – who filed the bail petition through his lawyers on 28 August, asking for it to be granted as he is ill.
Yassine Alaoui Ismaili (Morocco), Paul Botes (South Africa), Anna Boyiazis (USA), Tommaso Fiscaletti & Nic Grobler (South Africa), and Phumzile Khanyile (South Africa) are the five winners of the seventh CAP Prize. Open to photographers of any age or background, the CAP Prize is awarded to work that engages with the African continent or its diaspora.
Born in 1984 in Khouribga, Morocco, Yassine Alaoui Ismaili – aka Yoriyas – lives in Casablanca and has been awarded his prize for the series Casablanca Not the Movie (2014–2018). “It is both a love letter to the city I call home and an effort to nuance the visual record for those whose exposure to Morocco’s famous city is limited to guide book snapshots, film depictions or Orientalist fantasies,” he says.
Founded in 2012 by Swiss artist Benjamin Füglister, the Contemporary African Photography Prize aims “to raise the profile of African photography and encourage a rethinking of the image of Africa”. Open to photographers from anywhere in the world whose work engages with the African continent or its diaspora, it picks out five winners every year and shows their work at major photography festivals around the world. This year 800 photographers entered, of whom 25 have made it to the shortlist.
Hadi Uddin grew up surrounded by photography – his father owned a commercial studio and both technical skill and the ways of the darkroom were second nature by the time he took his place by Uddin senior’s side. He’s now found work as a fashion photographer – and a unique vision in his personal work